Our Regent American College of Healthcare Executives Minnesota Chapter

Diversity. The ranks of healthcare leaders do not demographically reflect the communities we serve. This is undeniable, and we have known this for some time. There are some hopeful signs, however, starting with an observation – there is quite a bit of passion around this topic, myself included.

First of all, we have seen the Minnesota ACHE chapter’s educational programming start to address these topics. In mid-December, there was a panel presentation developed by our chapter’s diversity and inclusion (D & I) committee, and at the Annual Meeting in November, the program included an all-female panel of CEOs. Our D & I leaders have also made great suggestions to the college itself to hold chapters more accountable to provide D & I educational programming, as well as to increase the diversity of the membership.

I also derive hope for the future from looking at the faces of the students entering our field. I have been privileged to visit college classrooms that are studying healthcare administration and, looking around the room, there is quite a bit of diversity. Contrasted with the general lack of diversity at the meetings I attend in my day-to-day professional life, it is striking. Anecdotally, even in my “real life”, it looks like strides appear to be being made on the gender side of the diversity equation. This isn’t scientific, but I did a quick check of our current hospital CEO mailing list at the Minnesota Hospital Association (where I work), and 27% are female – the southwestern region of the state is at 40% female. This is more than it used to be, but this is still not nearly enough when you consider the vast majority of our direct care workforce is female. There’s work to do.

The racial diversity – amongst our hospital CEOs, at least – is almost non-existent. This won’t change overnight, but this is where we could use some concerted effort in bringing the new wave of more diverse graduates through the pipeline and into leadership positions. There is something concrete you can do about this – host a diverse graduate student intern through the Summer Enrichment Program which ACHE co-sponsors. I’ve heard that the number of applicants far outnumbers the number of slots, so you could really help out significantly if you were able to host. For information on this, go here: https://www.ache.org/about-ache/our-story/diversity-and-inclusion/diversity-resources/ifd-ache-summer-enrichment-program.

Congress. The Minnesota Chapter does a great job of providing face-to-face credit opportunities throughout the year, both in the metro and outstate. You can get enough credits to maintain good standing in ACHE without ever leaving Minnesota – this is a really important service that the Chapter is providing because not everyone has the time and budget to go to Congress.

That being said, I have become a huge fan of attending Congress, and would highly recommend it. From a professional education development standpoint, Congress gives you something like 200 different programs to choose from – you can pinpoint the topics pertinent or interesting to you. And, there are literally thousands of healthcare executives to network with while you’re there.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Congress is also the place where those of you who have advanced to Fellow can be recognized ceremonially at the Convocation. Too many people fail to take advantage of this opportunity and later regret it. You only advance to Fellow once and you really should strongly consider attending the ceremony.

This year’s Congress starts the first weekend in March in Chicago. This is earlier than normal, and is sneaking up on us fast. So, you should make plans immediately if you haven’t already done so. Hope to see you there.

As always, please contact me with questions or comments. msonneborn@mnhospitals.org

Mark Sonneborn, FACHE
Regent for Minnesota